Yes parents, it’s coming up to that time of year again. Any experienced family man reading this will feel an immediate affinity with the subject matter; they may shudder and possibly become a little withdrawn. I am talking, of course, about the long distance family outing.
I have come across some old research which calculated that the moment the cry of ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ goes up is precisely twenty four minutes into the journey. This is apparently the amount of time that any British child between the ages of 2 and 8 will need to start complaining, whingeing and fidgeting from the point of first being buckled in.
Thank goodness, I hear you say, that DriveWrite is here to help. With the Spring and Summer holidays coming up fast now that we’ve got the endless winter festivities out of the way you’ll need some sage advice to avoid to any great extent the problem of children in cars. If you can’t run to tablets (that’s the electronic devices by the way, not drugs – although, hang on a minute…) to keep them quiet try making up some fun games which, apparently many of you already do. If that doesn’t work try bribery, but remember, kids today are very sophisticated so a packet of wine gums is not going to do the trick. Cash inducements are usually required – and you’d better be able to fold it.
You’d think that someone could come up with some answers, wouldn’t you? We’ve got masses of the latest technology in our cars for pete’s sake. There should be a button to press that will produce a selection of carefully targeted responses to the dreaded question but it doesn’t seem to be in the pipeline. Talk about priorities. Car makers should consult parents. Of course the real answer is to lie through your teeth to the kids. Tell them that your destination, although still four hours away, is ‘just up here and around the corner’. It works for a while. Alternatively, try vacationing just twenty three minutes away from your house.
When it comes to buying a new car, or a used car come to that, the car that we want is the car that we want, right? Wrong. The car that we really want is the car that we need. For most of us this is the financial reality in today’s economic situation when just the one motor is your limit. This obviously isn’t so much of a problem if you are single and fancy free but the family man has to have a different set of priorities.
Having children is a strangely anomalous state. It is wonderful, terrifying, frustrating and hugely annoying in pretty much equal measures and has a major and lifelong effect on your existence. Children in cars are often responsible for the hugely annoying bit, as we have seen earlier. So what sort of car is it that parents can happily buy in the certain knowledge that your children, at least, will be moderately content?
Clearly, you’ll need to satisfy yourself on the basics – economy, performance, optional extras and the like but then you’ve got to factor in the ankle-biters. The average family would probably favour a hatchback over a saloon for obvious reasons but what about the back seats? Naturally, you would go for a five door and it is useful if the back doors open wide – which implies a larger vehicle, like an SUV or MPV. Loading small ones into difficult to access child seats is not a lot of fun. For a start it is always raining. This is where sliding rear doors come into their own.
Some manufacturers also supply so-called ‘stadium seating’ – the rear seats are higher than the fronts – which gives kids a better forward view and is alleged to reduce travel sickness: and speaking of projectile vomiting, don’t worry about leather seats as they are a lot easier to swab down. It might be a good idea to avoid beige.
A twelve-volt socket is a must, for plugging in hand-held games or, if you can afford the option, how about seat-back DVD screens for the more discerning square-eyed child? The average family car also requires more storage space than Kim Kardashian’s dressing room. It wasn’t so many years ago that we marvelled at the advent of the cup-holder. How naïve we must have been back then.
Most car makers have suitable offerings so it’s worth doing your homework first. The outcome is unlikely to be the sexiest option but your kids will be happier and that’s the important thing. Actually, you will be happier and that’s the really important thing.